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A deliberate and nonviolent act of lawbreaking. Such acts are used by large groups of people to protest laws and policies that are believed by them to be illegitimate or immoral. Civil disobedience was a key and extremely effective element in the civil rights movement.


A wilful violation of a law, undertaken for the purpose of social or political protest. A refusal to obey the demands or commands of the government' to force government concessions. Indirect civil disobedience involves violating a law or interfering with a government policy that is not, itself, the object of protest. Direct civil disobedience, on the other hand, involves protesting the existence of a law by breaking that law or by preventing the execution of that law in a specific instance in which a particularized harm would otherwise follow. See Note, Applying the Necessity Defense to Civil Disobedience Cases, 64 N. Y.U. L. Rev. 79, 79-80 & n. 5 (1989). 

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